BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Baltimore artist honored author Toni Morrison in the wake of her death this week.

Morrison was a renowned novelist and the first African American woman to win a Nobel Prize.

Ernest Shaw Junior decided to paint a portrait of Morrison in the streets of Baltimore, where he grew up.

“In the traditions from which I come, we honor our ancestors,” Shaw said. “She’s one of the artists who deliberately had an impact on my creative process.”

Shaw comes from a family of artists- transporting us from Morrison’s pages to his paintbrushes. He wanted his work in Graffiti Alley.

“I’m not a street artist, I’m a muralist,” Shaw said. “But I pay tribute to those individuals for creating a space where people can come and express themselves freely.”

Morrison used her waltz with words and imagery, history and storytelling, to inspire and educate.

“Not just read her novels, but also study and research her commentary, her beliefs, her philosophies is equally as inspiring not just as an artist, but also as someone I consider was very active in fighting for equity.”

During her 1993 Nobel Lecture, Morrison said, “We die. That may be the meaning of life.”

“I don’t believe in death and dying,” Shaw said. “I don’t consider this a loss. We’re not losing an artist or person, we’re gaining an ancestor.”

Shaw has painted other murals honoring Aretha Franklin, James Baldwin, and John Coltrane. You can see more of his art on his Instagram Page EShaw_Art.


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